Susan always recognized that after she retired she would be living the active lifestyle. At 68, she’s now visited over 12 countries and has many more on her list. On any given day, you might find her out on the lake, exploring a new hiking trail with the grandchildren, or volunteering at the local soup kitchen.
Doing and seeing new things is what Susan is all about. But in the back of her mind, Susan is concerned that cognitive decline or dementia could change all that.
Her mother exhibited first signs of dementia when she was around Susan’s age. Susan watched her mother, who she had always respected and loved, struggle more and more with daily tasks over a 15 year period. She’s becoming forgetful. There eventually came a time when she frequently couldn’t identify Susan anymore.
Susan has tried to eat a healthy diet and exercise so she could hopefully avoid what her mother went through. But she isn’t certain that will be enough. Are there established ways to delay dementia or cognitive decline?
Luckily, there are things you can do to prevent cognitive decline. Three of them are listed here.
1. Exercise Everyday
This one was already part of Susan’s everyday life. She does try to get the suggested amount of exercise each day.
Many studies support the fact that individuals who do moderate exercise consistently as they get older have a decreased risk for cognitive decline and dementia. They’ve also had a positive effect on people who are already encountering symptoms of mental decline.
Here are numerous reasons why scientists believe regular exercise can stave off mental decline.
- As an individual gets older, the nervous system deteriorates and consistent exercise can slow this. Without these nerves, the brain doesn’t understand how to process memories, communicate with the body, or consider how to do things. Exercise slows this deterioration so scientists think that it could also slow cognitive decline.
- Neuroprtection factors might be enhanced with exercise. Your body has functions that protect certain kinds of cells from damage. These protectors may be created at a higher level in people who get an abundance of exercise.
- Exercise lowers the danger of cardiovascular disease. Blood delivers oxygen and nutrients to cells in the brain. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease obstructs this blood flow. Exercise might be able to slow down dementia by keeping these vessels healthy.
2. Have Vision Problems Treated
An 18-year study of 2000 people with cataracts, demonstrated that having cataract surgery halved the rate of cognitive decline in the group who had them removed.
While this study focused on one prevalent cause for loss of eyesight, this study supports the fact that maintaining eyesight as you age is important for your mental health.
People frequently begin to isolate themselves from friends and withdraw from activities they enjoy when they lose their eyesight at an older age. The connection between cognitive decline and social separation is the subject of other studies.
If you have cataracts, don’t just disregard them. If you can take measures to improve your vision, you’ll also be safeguarding yourself against the advancement of dementia.
3. Get Hearing Aids
If you have neglected hearing loss, you could be on your way to cognitive decline. The same researchers in the cataract research gave 2000 different people who had hearing loss a hearing aid. They used the same methods to test for the progression of mental decline.
They got even more impressive results. The people who got the hearing aids saw their dementia progression rates decline by 75%. Put simply, whatever existing dementia they might have currently had was almost completely stopped in its tracks.
There are some likely reasons for this.
The social component is the first thing. People tend to go into seclusion when they have untreated hearing loss because socializing with friends at restaurants and clubs becomes a struggle.
Second, when somebody gradually begins to lose their hearing, the brain forgets how to hear. If the person waits years to get a hearing aid, this degeneration advances into other parts of the brain.
In fact, researchers have actually compared the brains of people with untreated hearing loss to people who wear hearing aids using an MRI. The brain actually shrinks in individuals with neglected hearing loss.
That’s definitely not good for your memory and mental capabilities.
If you have hearing aids, wear them to ward off dementia. If you’re putting off on getting a hearing aid, even with hearing loss, it’s time to contact us for a hearing exam. Learn about today’s technologically advanced designs that help you hear better.